Shakespeare's First Folio. Credit: ptwo
All students studying English at Cambridge take a paper (a module) on Shakespeare in their first or second year, but it can be daunting deciding where to begin with 38 plays and over a hundred poems to be getting on with!
You might like to start by looking back at what you’ve already covered. Many students have studied at least one of Shakespeare’s Tragedies at school (Macbeth, King Lear or Hamlet might be familiar?) or one the Comedies (Much Ado about Nothing or Twelfth Night?). You may even have approached a play that fits more problematically into both of or between these categories, such as The Tempest or The Merchant of Venice.
But have you ever read, or seen performed, one of the History plays? Or read some of Shakespeare's sonnets? Reading or watching one the poems or plays you've never come across before can be a good (and fun!) place to start. You can find all of Shakespeare's works online on Open Source Shakespeare or Shakespeare Online.
And then, why not check out Radio Four’s programme on Shakespeare and Literary Criticism?